all of the selves we Have ever been
“…the great gift of memory is that we can choose to live in the resplendent moments.” – Mary Pipher
I have taken up bask fishing.
I got hooked on the sport at the Heart Walk a little more than a week ago. I signed up to support a friend and former co-worker who had suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Miraculously, skilled health care professionals were in the restaurant where it happened. Seeing her collapse, they came to her aid. While my friend never got to eat her favorite peanut butter pie, dessert was served: her life was saved. A year later, we, the grateful, gathered at a large city park for a photo and then to walk to celebrate the life of our friend and the work of those who save lives.
As the crowd thickened, other former co-workers arrived, and we embraced and caught up. Many of them I had not seen in ten years or more. Though some of us now sported gray hair and white stubble, wrinkles and rounded bellies, we remained immediately recognizable to one another. Moving through the throngs on our way to the starting line, I spotted other former colleagues and reached out for quick hugs while on the move.
“Work is love made visible.” – Kahlil Gibran
After the walk many of us gathered at a pizza joint to eat and celebrate. The gathering was hosted by our survivor-friend and her husband. Others who did not make it to the walk arrived as well. There were more embraces and more joy as we remembered a time when, together, we did work that was hard but holy, work that was made easy because we loved each other.
I watched my friend’s husband move between the three large tables that seated our crowd. He greeted each of us with kind words and embraces. He paused now and then to clink a glass with his wife or to lean in for a kiss, and I thought back to the time when they had just met, and our circle grew because of him. I was moved by the memory and by the way this thoughtful, kind man loves this spunky, bright woman. I trust his sincerity whenever he says, “We’ll get together soon,” because I know he means it.
A young lady I did not know sat down in the seat across from mine. Unable to walk earlier, she joined us for lunch. She sported a walking boot and a treasure chest of funny stories. This young lady brought me up to speed on the difficulties of young adulthood in the current state of world affairs--the impossibility of finding affordable rent, and the dearth of good jobs and meaningful work. I wished I could take her back with me to that other time in my own work life. Instead, I basked in her youth and her charm, and this widening circle.
On Monday morning, still high from the Saturday Heart Walk, I arrived at the radiology clinic for a follow-up appointment. In came the doctor. In came the nurse. In came the nurse practitioner. I was encircled by their youth and extraordinary kindness and care. Their brilliance twinkled all around me like lights on a Christmas tree. For a moment, I felt sad realizing that my time had passed, that I will never again work in a place like this surrounded by all of this youthful energy and confidence, this type of devotion to the work. Then the doctor told me that he is training for Pelatonia, the bicycle race with “a mission to change the world by accelerating innovative cancer research.” Sadness gave way to gratitude as I basked in the knowledge that this busy and beautiful man who harnesses the power of the sun to cure cancer will also use his bicycle to save lives, mine included. There are things left to wish for, races to run.
I arrived home to find a few long-time neighbors out on the stoop. I reeled them in.
Memories are everywhere. They hold the past and shape the future. Care to join me as I fish?